By Meggie Ambrose-Dempster, BA World Philosophies
Our Streets Now is a grassroots, student-led, nation-wide campaign striving to end Public Sexual Harassment (PSH) through legislative and cultural change. With a new Higher Education ambassador scheme launched on 22 February, Our Streets Now is now being represented in 17 Higher Education institutions across the UK with more than 30 Ambassadors. Called the #StudentsNotObjects movement, we are fighting to end PSH inside and outside of these Higher Education institutions.
Our Streets Now have released data collected in their 2020 report ‘They Saw My Fear and Laughed: Tackling Public Sexual Harassment in Education.’
The report, based on an in-depth qualitative survey with over 100 students, found that:
- 84% of students had experienced PSH
- 49% of students have been harassed travelling to or around university
- 24% of students have been harassed on campus
- 72% of students did not know or were unsure about where to report or seek support services for Public Sexual Harassment (PSH) at their institutions
The #StudentsNotObjects campaign is calling for:
- Compulsory consent workshops and ongoing training for staff and students on the topic of PSH.
- Well-funded, institution-wide awareness campaigns on the topic of PSH.
- Working with local authorities and transport providers to reduce PSH locally.
- Appointment of a full-time sexual assault and harassment advisor.
HOW DOES OUR STREETS NOW FIT INTO SOAS?
SOAS is a great institution with important policies and campaigns already in place, but we believe things can always be improved. The consent workshops run by Enough is Enough cover a wide range of ways to deal with harassment and the topic of consent. They are already well established and on their way to making real change – which we think is fantastic! We hope to work with Enough is Enough to properly introduce the topic of PSH and ensure that students are also aware that they do not have to combat this form of abuse alone.
This is where one of the biggest goals of the campaign at SOAS comes in: requesting a full-time sexual assault and harassment advisor, provided and funded by the institution. This is a basic right that students deserve that should be provided by the institution as proof that they understand the importance of protecting their students.
HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN?
There are numerous ways you can support Our Streets Now at SOAS. Spreading the word is one of the most important parts of the early stages of the campaign. You can follow us on Instagram @ourstreetsnow_soas to keep up to date. Most importantly, you can also become an ambassador! We are trying to build a strong team at SOAS. You can sign up via the Instagram, email Meggie at 647533 if you want more information, or can visit our website: www.ourstreetsnow.org/higher-education
Lastly, you can also check out the virtual exhibition made by Eliza Hatch @cheerupluv for #16DaysOfActivism and the mini-series consisting of five podcasts created by Hayley Rose Dean @discuss_podcast talking about the different components of the Higher Education Ambassador Scheme.
Photo caption: Our Streets Now logo. (Credit: @ourstreetsnow_soas)